Ever wondered, ‘What is a tagline?’ Well, it’s more than a catchy phrase. Your tagline gets to the heart of your brand and communicates its uniqueness and essence.
In this article, we’ll discuss the role of taglines, differentiate them from slogans and understand why your brand needs one. We’ll also discuss different types of taglines, look at real-world tagline examples and tips on how to create a tagline that catches on.
Let’s dive right in.
What Is a Tagline?
A tagline is more than just a phrase. It’s a short expression that sums up the essence and uniqueness of your brand.
Thanks to your tagline, people will be able to identify your brand even when the brand name is not visible. This makes it one of the most effective ways to your build brand recognition.
But that’s not all. A punchy tagline is like your brand’s signature. It raises awareness, invites customers to stay loyal, and sets your brand apart from its competitors.
A Tagline Is Not a Slogan
Did you know a tagline and a slogan serve different purposes, despite both being catchy and memorable phrases?
While a slogan is often used to promote a specific temporary offer, a tagline has a longer-term role. It goes beyond promoting an offer and expresses your brand’s values, unique selling proposition and personality.
In fact, a well-crafted tagline can become inseparable from your brand identity over time, while a slogan can be forgotten.
Let’s take Nike as an example. Since 1988, Nike has been using its iconic tagline “Just Do It.” It embodies Nike’s brand ethos of determination, motivation, and overcoming challenges.
Nike consistently applies its tagline across its marketing materials—from ads to packaging and even in other prominent placements like Google search results.
Through this consistent and strategic use, the tagline has become deeply associated with the Nike brand.
In addition to this tagline, Nike has used various slogans tied to individual campaigns over time, such as:
- Find Your Greatness
- Unlimited You
- Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.
Why Your Brand Should Have a Tagline
Let’s be real. Not all brands have or even need a tagline. But taglines offer many advantages.
Here are some reasons why they are used in branding:
Unique Brand Identity
Your tagline can help convey your brand’s unique identity—its values, personality, vision and mission. By summarising the essence of your brand in a few words, your tagline contributes to creating a clear image in the minds of consumers.
Your Brand Name and Tagline Complement Each Other
In this context, your brand name and tagline should complement each other. If the name is non-descriptive, the tagline can help convey the purpose of the business. On the other hand, if the name is descriptive, the tagline can add some personality and emotion.
Take Audi’s tagline, “Vorsprung durch Technik” (Advancement through Technology). It highlights Audi’s benefit of technological innovation and progressiveness. It also carries a certain “feeling” the name doesn’t.
Increased Brand Recognition
Your tagline can also help increase brand recognition.
A memorable tagline can leave a lasting impression and foster a sense of familiarity with your brand. Just like a friendly handshake that your customers will remember.
A well-written tagline speaks to your customers on an emotional level. That way it creates a connection between them and your brand.
Your tagline can evoke positive emotions by speaking to your customers’ values or addressing their needs and desires.
In the case of Audi, the tagline “Vorsprung durch Technik” taps into people’s desire for a car with cutting-edge technology.
Your tagline can also help differentiate your brand from the competition by highlighting its unique selling point and personality. It’s an opportunity to say, “Hey, we’re different, and here’s why.”
For Audi, this means positioning itself as the go-to brand for technologically advanced cars.
Does Every Brand Need a Tagline?
The short answer is no.
However, a tagline can bridge the gap between your brand name and its intended meaning. This is especially true when the name itself doesn’t convey the essence of the brand or when your brand is still establishing itself.
Nevertheless, not all brands need a tagline.
To determine if a tagline will help grow your brand, you should consider your goals, your audience and your overall brand strategy. This will help you decide if a tagline can contribute to your brand’s success.
Tagline Types Plus Real-World Tagline Examples
Let’s take a look at the different types of taglines and real-world examples for each type. There’s not always a clear cut. Many examples would fit into multiple categories.
Descriptive taglines are brief and impactful summaries. They effectively capture the essence of a brand. They provide insights into the brand’s key features, benefits, or unique selling points by vividly describing what the brand stands for and offers.
Here are a few examples:
- Taste the rainbow. (Skittles)
- Belong anywhere. (Airbnb)
- Broadcast Yourself. (Youtube)
- We’ll leave a light on for you. (Motel 6)
- We deliver. (USPS)
- This is wellness (Deliciously Ella)
Inspirational taglines tap into people’s desires, ignite passion and motivate personal development. They go beyond product features and benefits. Rather, they speak to people on an emotional level.
Here are some examples of inspirational taglines:
- Think Small. (Volkswagen)
- Impossible is nothing. (Adidas)
- Think big. (Imax)
- Let’s go places. (Toyota)
- Belong anywhere (Airbnb)
- Nonstop you. (Lufthansa)
Humorous taglines use wit and lightness to capture our attention and entertain us. That way, they create a positive association with the brand.
Here are some examples:
- That was easy. (Staples)
- Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline. (Maybelline)
- Red Bull gives you wings. (Red Bull)
- Nothing runs like a Deere. (John Deere)
- Finger-Lickin’ Good (KFC)
- Don’t leave home without it. (American Express)
Provocative taglines challenge conventional thinking. By pushing boundaries and daring to be different, these taglines captivate our attention and provoke thought.
Here are a few examples of provocative taglines:
- Can you hear me now? (Verizon)
- Designed to be deleted (Hinge)
- Democracy dies in darkness. (The Washington Post)
- What happens here, stays here. (Las Vegas)
- The Citi never sleeps. (Citibank)
- Save water. Drink champagne. (Moët & Chandon)
Call-to-action taglines motivate the audience to take action and interact with the brand.
Some examples of Call-to-Action Taglines are:
- Fuel your freshness. (Subway)
- Empower your journey with Hertz. (Hertz)
- Seize the ride. (Uber)
- Uncover the world. (Expedia)
- Be a hero (GoPro)
- Join the movement. (Fitbit)
Rhythmic or Rhyming Taglines
These taglines use rhythmic patterns or rhymes to become memorable and captivate our attention.
Here are some examples:
- Melts in your mouth, not in your hands. (M&M’s)
- The quicker picker-upper. (Bounty)
- It keeps going… and going… and going. (Energizer)
- Easy as ABC. (ABC Network)
- Buy It, Sell It, Love It (eBay)
- I’m lovin’ it (McDonald’s)
Brand Essence Taglines
Brand Essence Taglines describe what the brand does and what it stands for.
Here are some examples of Brand Essence Taglines:
- Open Happiness. (Coca-Cola)
- The happiest place on Earth. (Disneyland)
- Just like home. (Marriott)
- Connecting People (Nokia)
- A diamond is forever. (De Beers)
- The king of beers. (Budweiser)
Competitive Taglines are designed to distinguish a brand from its competitors, mainly by highlighting its unique selling points.
Here are some examples of Competitive Taglines:
- We try harder. (Avis)
- Think different. (Apple)
- I think, therefore IBM. (IBM)
- America like you’ve never read it. (New Yorker)
- Better sound through research. (Bose)
- The ultimate driving machine. (BMW)
Characteristics of a Strong Tagline
A great tagline can be characterised by these features:
- Memorable: easy to remember
- Clear: effectively communicates your brand’s message
- Unique: sets your brand apart from its competitors
- Reflective of Brand Identity: aligns with brand values and personality
- Engaging: captures attention and generates interest
- Timeless: remains relevant over time
- Versatile: works across all marketing channels
- Honest and Positive: fosters trust and is authentic to the brand
- Action-Oriented: inspires the audience to take action
- Scalable: adaptable to future brand growth
How to Write a Tagline That Sticks
Writing a tagline for your brand can be a daunting task. But there are some steps you can follow to make the process a bit more manageable, such as:
1. Understand Your Brand
Start by gaining a good understanding of your brand. What are your brand’s unique personality traits, values, and selling points?
Clarify what sets your brand apart from the rest.
2. Define Your Target Audience
Identify and research your target audience. What are their needs, preferences, and aspirations? Your tagline should resonate with them to evoke an emotional connection.
3. Brainstorm Keywords and Phrases
Generate a list of keywords and phrases that reflect your brand’s unique identity. Consider words that trigger emotions, convey benefits, or make people curious.
4. Keep It Concise
Remember, a tagline should be short and memorable. Aim for a short phrase that captures the essence of your brand in a few words.
There is no rule on the exact number of words a tagline should have, but most taglines have under eight words. In nerdy terms: The average word count of my examples in this article is 4.6.
5. Emphasise Uniqueness
Highlight what makes your brand unique and different from others in your industry. Find a way to communicate these distinctive qualities in your tagline.
6. Use Language Techniques
If suitable to your brand, experiment with language techniques such as alliteration, rhyme, or wordplay to make your tagline more memorable and engaging.
7. Test and Refine
Once you have a few tagline options, gather feedback from stakeholders, customers, or focus groups. Refine and iterate based on the feedback received.
8. Check for Alignment
Double-check that your tagline aligns with your brand identity. It should be consistent with your brand voice and resonate with your target audience.
9. Evaluate Effectiveness
Monitor the impact of your tagline over time. Does it effectively generate brand recognition? Is it attractive and clear to customers?
- What is a tagline, now? It’s a short expression that captures your brand’s essence and helps communicate your brand’s unique values and personality.
- A tagline is different from a slogan, as it represents your brand long-term, rather than being tied to temporary promotions or campaigns.
- Incorporating a tagline can differentiate your brand, build recognition, shape identity, foster consistency, and establish an emotional connection.
- Not all brands require a tagline, but it can bridge the gap between the brand name and brand purpose.
- A strong tagline is memorable, clear, unique, reflective of brand identity, engaging, timeless, versatile, honest, positive, action-oriented, and scalable.
- There are various types of taglines, from humorous to provocative.
- When crafting your tagline, consider some steps: understand your brand, define your target audience, brainstorm, keep it concise, emphasise uniqueness, consider language techniques, test and refine, check for alignment, and evaluate effectiveness.
Title image by Kaboompics